A Helping Hand for Refugees

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The world refugee problem can be solved with love

Scientific Research Volume 131 - May 2015

✓ ✓Hundreds of hungry, thirsty people in tiny boats in the middle of the sea…

✓Lives lost trying to cross a river or get through barbed wire…

✓The humiliation they encounter when they finally think they have made it…

✓Refugees risking death to escape harsh conditions and live a human life are one of the world's most important problems...

So how can this problem be solved?

Refugees are people who are forced to leave their own countries due to oppression because of differences of language, religion or political opinion or because they belong to a specific social group. When economic troubles in their homelands combine with concerns over security, people want to migrate to - and live in - places they regard as more prosperous and safer. Most of the time, such migration tends to take place within the affected country, but factors such as the Arab Spring and the global economic crisis have led such migrations to involve crossing borders more and more. These people are afraid to return to their countries.

The number of people fleeing from areas of conflict is growing by the day. Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Sudan, Kenya and Burma are the countries where the refugee problem is most severe.

Spain, Malta and Italy are exposed to migrants from North Africa; Greece over the Aegean Sea and Thrace; and Germany over the Balkans. Turkey on the other hand has received record numbers of migrants from Syria and Iraq. Although Turkey is a less developed country than Spain, Italy, Greece or Germany, it does not reject refugees, but instead offers them many greater opportunities. However, European countries in particular have recently begun to change their behavior toward refugees. European countries' behavior toward refugees contravenes human rights.

The real sickness in the world is lovelessness

There is a profound lovelessness behind the egoism, hatred and conflict in the world. It is lovelessness again that underlies disagreements and conflicts between different communities on the basis of race, sect or belief. The world is now waiting for people of love to govern with love and justice and put a stop to the bloodshed. May God send us the fine days of the reign of love without delay.

Why does the EU not want refugees?

Tens of thousands of people are risking their lives to get to Europe, by land or sea. Research by Amnesty International reveals that they first need to breach the barricades set up by the Fortress Europe. The majority are violently repulsed by the police and coastguards or detained for weeks under harsh conditions. Refugees trying to get to Europe by sea are subjected to repatriation operations. These can be totally inhumane. The report cites one refugee as saying this about Greek officials: "They put all the men lying on the boat; they stepped on us and hit us with their weapons for three hours. Then at around 10 in the morning, after removing the motor, they put us back to our plastic boat and drove us back to the Turkish waters and left us in the middle of the sea.''30

According to the report, Europe, which has admitted 12,000 of the 2.3 million defenseless refugees fleeing the civil war in Syria, has opened its doors to only 0.5% of all refugees. The significant thing is that when Germany, which has granted refugee status to 10,000 refugees, is removed from the equation, the remaining 27 EU countries have admitted a total of 2,340 refugees. Striking sections of the Amnesty International report 'Fortress Europe: Syrian Refugee Shame Exposed' are as follows:

Leading the way in regard to human rights for years, Europe has failed in practice. Whereas some European countries have accepted a certain number of refugees, others have shown the most appalling attitudes. The harsh rhetoric by some European politicians, the refugees forced to wait at the borders and even left for dead on Europe's territorial waters under everyone's eyes are among the heart-breaking incidents being witnessed by the 21st Century.

France has allotted 500 places for Syrian refugees, and Spain just 30, while 18 EU member states, including the United Kingdom and Italy, have not proposed any places at all. To date, 55,000 refugees have reached Europe and requested asylum, that number representing just 2.4% of the total number of refugees. Another point of criticism in the Amnesty International is that despite human rights violations against refugees in Europe in 2012 and the border policies imposed, the European Union was still awarded the Nobel Peace prize. Thorbjoern Jagland, head of the Nobel Committee, said that the EU had been considered worthy of the prize because of its contributions to human rights, peace and democracy over the last 60 years.

It appears that Europe, which espouses human rights, liberty, peace and democracy, is unwilling to provide these people who have no right to life in their own countries with the means for a free and safe life. Why is the European Union so insensitive to this humanitarian drama? Why does it fear and turn its backs on people who come to seek asylum?

1. German Right-Wing Union is organizing a demonstration against refugees in Munich.

Germany has opened its doors to some of the refugees who want to seek asylum in the country. However this time the refugees encountered the reactions of many Germans. The refugees are not comfortable due to the many counter-demonstrations in the country where they seek asylum.

The main cause of this fear is that people do not live as true Muslims in the Middle East and many places. The true Islam possesses highly advanced conceptions of democracy and liberty that European societies can be very comfortable with. However, circles that abandon the essence of Islam and live by fanatical ways of thinking impose a form of Islam that is conservative, fanatical, restrictive and opposed to art, science and very nearly life itself. People therefore imagine that Islam restricts freedoms, modernity, fields of art such as music, sculpture, painting and theater, and a democratic life style. Therefore, this conception held by those who misrepresent Islam being diametrically opposed to Europe, which regards itself as a leader in terms of art and democracy, strengthens that fear.

It is also in the power of Muslims to prevent this fear. They must put an end to nonsense that has no place in Islam forthwith and live by the essence of Islam. Only in this way can we correct the false image being given in Europe. Once Muslims are highly modern, cultured, high-quality and educated, and when they value beauty and art, then the fear felt by Europe will also disappear.

However, it is unacceptable, no matter for what reason, for Europe to turn a blind eye to everything that is going on while living in such prosperity. What they are doing is a total violation of human rights. If they claim to be defenders of human rights, then they must behave accordingly.

It is true that the deep-seated problem of bigotry in the Middle East is considered to be a threat by Europe. Nevertheless, Europe cannot solve this problem by not allowing migrants from the Middle East into their countries, but by providing the appropriate education based on the Qur'an. The policy of hatred and anger are inaccurate policies that reinforce bigotry further.

The problems that refugees face in the countries where they live

The forced migration taking place in the civil war in Syria has been described as the largest in the history of the U.N. High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). Almost half of the pre-war Syrian population of 22 million have been subjected to forced migration. Seventy-five percent of displaced Syrians consist of women and children. The great majority of Syrians have relocated inside the country, while 97% of the 2.5 million Syrians have fled to neighboring countries.

1. Stop Racism

 

Racism, increasingly widespread in Europe, strikes at the heart of Europe's democracy.

Afghans represent the largest refugee group in the world, with 95% of Afghan refugees seeking shelter in neighboring countries such as Pakistan and Iran. One in every four refugees in the world is an Afghan. Afghanistan is followed by Somalia and Iraq. There are 450,000 refugees registered with the UN living in Lebanon. The refugees in 12 settlements resembling concentration camps are struggling to survive in great poverty. Their basic rights have been denied and they are deprived of any political rights, even symbolic ones.

Most of the refugees in Lebanon were exiled from Palestine in 1947-48. For 66 years, these people have been living as refugees, and still have no citizenship rights. Muslim Uighur Turks fleeing Red Chinese persecution in East Turkestan, Rakhine Muslims deprived of citizenship rights under oppression by the Myanmar regime and hundreds of thousands of refugees in dozens of other regions are all struggling to survive. This picture is a brief summary of the harsh conditions that needy people across the world are living in. Have you ever wondered why these people decide to risk their lives, put all their money into the hands of human traffickers and set out on such dangerous voyages?

Afghans are the world's largest refugee group. The migration of the Afghan people, ongoing for many years, has now turned into a silent tragedy forgotten by the world. Afghan people who fled their country have been living in primitive camps for many years.

The impact of helping others and guardianship on perfection of faith

Helping the refugees is the means for one's purification of his lower self from egoistic desires and selfishness. Therefore, just like at the time of our Prophet (saas), the faith of those who help the refugees and provide them with moral and material support are perfected by God's leave and they attain maturity.

For that reason guardianship for the refugees will be an important opportunity for gaining profundity in faith. God informs us of this superior morality in the Qur'an with the following verse:

Those who have faith and have emigrated and striven with their wealth and themselves in the Way of God, and those who have given refuge and help, they are the friends and protectors of one another. But as for those who have faith but have not emigrated, you are not in any way responsible for their protection until they emigrate. But if they ask you for help in respect of the religion, it is your duty to help them, except against people you have a treaty with. God sees what you do. (Surat al-Anfal, 72)

The war has caused incidents that children should not witness and dragged them away into a situation where they should not be under any circumstances. These children, who lost their parents at a very young age, fled their countries and faced with the threat of drowning in the cold waters of the sea, deserve to live a beautiful life.

Everyone has a responsibility for the lives of refugees

There is but one reason why people in various parts of the world migrate and become refugees; the fear of death. These people living in Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria or Rakhine risk being killed at any moment. They therefore set out on these dangerous journeys that often end in death in the hope perhaps being rescued. Since these people have no other option, the priority issue is for countries to review their refugee policies. European countries in particular must immediately stop ignoring the refugee question and adopt the idea that "everyone's life, be he Afghan, African or Syrian, is valuable."

The priority in the search for a solution is not to close off the routes by which refugees arrive, but to take measures to ensure their lives are not endangered on the trip. Last year alone, more than 3500 people lost their lives while trying to cross from North Africa to Europe. The details in the headlines were chilling.

An operation saving 2,100 refugees who were about to drown offshore of the island of Lampedusa, Italy placed the problem of refugees on the agenda once again. However, pressure from the United Nations urged Italy to end its rescue operation, named Mare Nostrum, which brought about more deaths.

◉ Hundreds of people on the open seas in tiny boats at risk of sinking…

◉ Boats deliberately sunk by human traffickers after taking the refugees' money…

◉ Boats from which all wireless and radar equipment has deliberately been removed to prevent the refugees being rescued...

Every year, hundreds of people die while trying to cross the Mediterranean. Some 650 refugees and migrants are estimated to have died in October 2014 when three boats sank while trying to cross from North Africa to Europe. Such losses are still continuing.

Every year, thousands of refugees drown in the sea; some of them vanish and some are saved from drowning at the last second every day. The news that routinely appears on television and newspapers has failed to attract the attention of people after a while. However, the tragedy is continuously going on.

On 16, February, 2015, calls for help from 12 illegal migrant boats 120 miles to the south of the Italian island of Lampedusa and 30-50 miles of the Libyan capital, Tripoli, again attracted attention to the refugee problem. With the help of teams from the Coastguard, 2100 migrants, including women and children, were saved from death at the last moment.

Readers will remember that in October 2013, 363 refugees drowned when a rickety boat sank off the island of Lampedusa. The rescue mission known as Mare Nostrum was set up in the light of international public pressure following that tragedy. However, since the rescue operations were costing Italy 10 million euros a month and no help was forthcoming from other EU countries, the mission was terminated. Yet during it, the lives of more than 100,000 refugees had been saved.

The inhumane treatment against the refugees on the European borders indicates the extent to which the lack of conscience has reached. Responding to the needs of refugees with anger and violence, without understanding their difficulties, is actually damaging the values underlying Europe.

Rather than rescuing them, Triton, the lower-budget mission set up in its place, has actually prevented many refugees reaching EU countries and resulted in them being sent back to the countries they set out from. Many politicians in Italy, a country with a moral responsibility, and especially Prime Minister Renzi, called on EU countries to shoulder the burden together since Italy was being left to face the refugee problem alone.

Giusa Nicolini, the mayor of Lampedusa, says that they feel abandoned and that the government needs to step to a new mission in the Mediterranean. Concerning the latest incidents, he says:

The people who froze to death after they were saved would still be alive if they'd been taken onto Mare Nostrum ships, which were always stationed well to the south of Lampedusa. ... If the aim was to have more boats and fewer survivors, then they've achieved it.31

The supply of food is already available to easily feed a total of seven billion people in the world. However, selfishness and heartlessness has overcome justice, which is indicated by the fact that people on one side of the world starve to death whereas those on the other side waste food dreadfully.

Karl Kopp from the Pro Asyl refugee organization says:

When it was set up, Mare Nostrum was an absolute emergency measure in terms of European sea rescue," Kopp explains. However, he says that Europe has now deliberately taken a step back from sea rescue. Triton has a small operational area, and the distances its boats have to cover are too great. Kopp says this means that mass death in the Mediterranean is consciously being taken into account. "The EU is deliberately trying to scare people off coming to Europe with the deaths of asylum-seeking migrants," he says. Kopp says this begs the question of what a human life is worth to those in authority in Brussels if an essential rescue mission cannot get EU funding.32

 

Footnotes

30 https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2013/12/fortress-europe-syrian-refugee-shame-exposed/

31 http://www.dw.com/en/new-tragedy-in-the-mediterranean/a-18248601

32 http://www.dw.com/en/new-tragedy-in-the-mediterranean/a-18248601

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